Bear Has A Story to Tell by Philip C. Stead. Illustrated by Erin E. Stead. Roaring Brook Press, 2012.
Winter is coming and Bear is getting sleepy. But before he curls up for his long winter sleep, Bear has a story he wants to share with his friends. Fall is a busy time in the forest as animals prepare for winter, and Bear’s friends just don’t seem to have time to listen to his story. Mouse is busy collecting seeds and Duck is getting ready to fly south. Mole is already asleep. So Bear helps his friends and settles in to sleep until spring when he will finally be able to tell his story.
This is a beautiful story about friendship where Bear patiently helps his friends do what they need to do when he really wants to share his story with them. But it never feels moralistic. Bear is tender and kind, and his friends come through for him in the end. When he can’t remember his story, they gently encourage him and make suggestions until he is ready to share his tale of friendship.
Erin Stead’s illustrations capture the mood of tenderness and caring. The pencil and watercolor pictures are both atmospheric and detailed, perfectly capturing the feeling of the seasons. The picture of bear rolling in the newly green grass in spring is sure to bring a smile to the reader’s face.
Early Literacy Hint: When you read this book together, use it as a springboard to talk about concepts like the seasons, hibernation, friendship, and patience. The story Bear tells in the end is the story of his experience and that of his friends. Encourage your child to create a story of something they have done or experienced. Write it down for them as they tell it to you. Or have them draw a picture and write a caption for them.